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Subject: Re: Don Giovanni at the Met
From: "Volpe, Russell" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Volpe, Russell
Date:Thu, 29 Sep 2016 18:26:04 +0000
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I was there at the opening and here are some comments on the performance. 
 
Very happy to report on a fairly strong revival of the mediocre, uninspired, unit set Michael Grandage/Christopher Oram production of Don Giovanni at the Met (opened Tuesday night). 
 
There are two pieces of big news here.  The first is the return of Simon Keenlyside after a two year absence for medical and vocal problems.  He offers a fine account of the Don that is filled with knowing, wry touches with the text and great physicality and fine acting.  Here is the Cavalier rake to the tips of his toes and he inhabits the role completely.  His is a small-sounding baritone (no booming Don here) and one is quite struck by how short in stature Mr., Keenlyside is as well.  Of course, the fact that the Leporello and the Masetto in this cast tower at well over 6 feet, make Mr. Keenlyside look even shorter.  His lied-inflected "Deh vieni alla finestra" was one of the most gorgeous renditions of the aria I have ever heard. He drew the audience in with every word and breath. 
 
 The other news is that Paul Appleby (replacing the touted return of Rolando Villazon) sings a mellifluous Don Ottavio, excelling vocally, acting well and contributing solidly to all his scenes.  His legato in Dalla sua pace was ravishing and he mostly handled the coloratura challenges of Il mio Tesoro with aplomb.  I am especially happy to report this because his Belmonte in "Abduction from the Seraglio" last spring was not one of his finer outings. 
  
Adam Plachetka made his strongest Met impression to date as Leporello (earlier Schaunard and Belcore).  Tall and commanding, though his voice is less so, he played well off Keenlyside and brought dignity and humor to his portrayal.  His Catalogue aria was not of the vocally stentorian variety, but was sly and crafty in its way with the text.  Matthew Rose offered a Masetto of much more sonorous substance than one often gets in this role.  Kwangchul Youn was a steely and spectral Commendatore. 
 
Less happy news from the women.  Hibla Gerzmava presents a big-voiced, but slightly unwieldy, Donna Anna.   under pressure, her tone turns a tad shrill.  Malin Bystrom started off sounded tight and constricted as Donna Elvira.  Her sound opened up as the night progressed and by the time of Mi Tradi she had hit her stride and offered a decent account of the aria. Both lead women were solid actresses contributing to the cohesiveness of the whole.  Serena Malfi's mezzo Zerlina was of the earthy, anti-soubrette variety and while her tone was not particularly beautiful, she scored points for sincerity and for avoiding cloying cuteness. 
 
Fabio Luisi - we may miss him soon as he reduces his official Met role in the lead up to the Nezet-Seguin era - led the orchestra in a lithe and nimble account of the score, leaning on drama when needed but not excessively. 
  
Overall, this was one of those nights at the Met where the whole was pleasingly greater than the sum of the parts. 
 
Russ Volpe 
 
Russell G. Volpe, DPM 
Professor 
Department of Orthopedics and Pediatrics  
New York College of Podiatric Medicine  
Foot Clinics of New York 
53-55 East 124th Street 
New York, New York 10035 
phone: 212 410 8129 
fax; 212 410 8440 
 
-----Original Message----- 
From: Discussion of opera and related issues [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Garry F Bell 
Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2016 8:15 PM 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Subject: Don Giovanni at the Met 
 
Hi 
 
Any comments on last night's Don Giovanni? 
 
Garry 
Auckland - New Zealand 
 
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